For as long as I lived in Vancouver there were dueling Starbucks coffee shops kitty-corner to each other at Robson and Thurlow. Seemed like a clever strategy as they were both equally lined up out the door. At the time I had a part time job working on Robson Street, along with a full time day job elsewhere, who enjoyed endless people watching. The hustle and bustle of Robson Street captivated me as did the draw to these two well established coffee joints. I can not tell a lie, I did enjoy their coffee as there were no other choices near by (don’t hate). Fast forward to 2012, and one of those Starbucks shut down due to a planned rent increase following a 23 year run, and inability to renegotiate their terms.
A resident Calgarian since 2000, I’ve spent the past several years being involved in projects that support local businesses in the food and beverage community. Check out YYC Pizza Week and the Culinary Race to learn more about some of the things keeping me busy. I admit to still buying the odd Starbucks bevy on occasion but if given the choice I will seek out the local coffee shop first. I love the habit and ambience some days more than I love the coffee.
Inspiration comes from everywhere and this is how #10DaysOfCoffee started. While sipping my typical dry, sugar free cappuccino in a coffee shop one day last week, the idea to do visit local coffee shops came to me. I started scribbling coffee shop names as fast as I could write on an envelope, and tweeting looking for suggestions from friends and locals. A list of more than 20 appeared and I decided this may very well end up becoming a 10 Days of Coffee Part I and II. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare a proper plan since December was mere hours away, but we decided to visit a new coffee shop every day for 10 days between December 5 – 10th in Calgary. This post will be updated daily sharing my new coffee adventure.
Important to Note both Phil & Sebastian’s and Lazy Loaf & Kettle donate food to Leftover’s Rescue Food.
Disclaimer: the coffee shops featured in this post have not offered any kind of deal or sponsorship in lieu of promotion. While they are being made aware of this post via social media and in shop conversation, all opinions expressed, money spent, and photos are my own.
We don’t always eat at each location or are able to get the best shots therefore photo credit will be given when photos are borrowed from the coffee shops.
We begin our coffee adventure at Fratello Analog Coffee on 17th Avenue. I’ve been to a couple of their locations in Calgary, however the one on 17th worked best for a meet up with friends for a coffee and a chat.
Analog Coffee is owned by the Prefontaine family who have been selling coffee and other hot beverages since 1974. This family run business believes a coffee house should be much more than just a place to get your caffeine fix, it should be the perfect spot to retreat and enjoy a meticulously-prepared beverage. Their goal has always been clear; don’t just drink the coffee, taste the coffee.
Serving up delicious coffee and items provided by the former Corbeaux Bakery, this little coffee shop on 17th Avenue gives you a true coffee experience. A variety of pastries and treats greets you the moment you walk in the door and challenges you to walk away with just a coffee. This is a place to take your mom or get caught up with a friend before or after strolling down 17th Avenue.
Check out Fratello Analog Coffee at any of their six locations in Calgary.
From a chance meeting in a digital circuits class in 1996, to graduating as engineers, Phil & Sebastian are set to open their fifth brick-and-mortar cafe on Stephens Avenue this Thursday, December 8th. Not only have they embraced the coffee culture, but they’ve taken it to new levels not yet experienced in Calgary.
Visiting several coffee-producing countries annually to taste samples and decide on what beans to bring home and sell, these two friends and business partners roast the beans in a roaster using software they created themselves (cool right?!). Baristas in each location train for up to 6 months before serving coffee to the public and each Phil & Sebastian’s offers a unique story to tell. Some offer beer and wine, others offer food prepared under the direction of an in house chef utilizing local producers.
This high-end coffee bar is the perfect spot to stop for a morning cup of joe, lunch meeting or enjoy a glass of wine at one of their participating locations in the evening. Phil & Sebastian’s offer coffee classes and tastings, subscriptions, evening events, and an online store. Tastings or classes sounds like the best gift for coffee lovers!
Located in the North West community of Parkdale, Lazy Loaf and Kettle offers both home baked goods, all day breakfasts (3pm), delicious lunches, and a cozy cafe you can settle into enjoy your meal or hot coffee or tea.
The Labonte family started their business in 1989 baking right out of their home for devoted customers. In 1994 they moved into their current location in Parkdale and have grown to over 30 employees. Using Grandma’s recipes handed down through generations and creating some of their own, the Labonte’s have kept the secret to their success simple; hard work and home-grown or local sourced ingredients keep their customers loyal and food fresh.
This little cafe is not easily noticed from the main road, and when you do arrive . You might think this as a little hole in the wall when you drive by (it’s easy to miss), however enter the cafe and you are greeted immediately with it’s warmth and cozy atmosphere.
Our visit today included a Latte with just the right amount of foam, and a perfectly toasted BLT made with house baked bread for lunch.
In 1958 Alberto and Christina Iamartino family started Great West Italian Importers, a family run business bringing products in from Italy and Europe to sell in Calgary. As the business grew and kids came along they eventually expanded to their current location off of McKnight and Deerfoot in the North East. Eventually the kids and their spouses took over running the business and two divisions: The Italian Store (retail end of the business), and Scarpone’s (the importer of products from all over the world).
The Iamartino family are simple folk with simple goals. They want to bring the best imported goods to Calgary at the best prices. Scarpone’s and The Italian Store support local charities, and they sell their products to many restaurants, and grocery stores in Calgary, and across Canada. But you would never know this because they are a proud family who does not boast about their love for community, charity and giving back. They just do it.
The cafe is always busy with regulars stopping in for lunch, an espresso, home made gelatos or to pick up some groceries. They are open Monday through Saturday, 9-5pm. I managed to sneak in today just before it got busy in the cafe to enjoy my cappuccino and cannoli.
A new coffee shop emerged on 17th Avenue this past year called Philosáfy Coffee. They offer a signature espresso roast, Socrates, a Colombian, Costa Rican, and Ethiopian blend, which Philosafy describes as offering “notes of toasted almonds, caramelized pear, and milk chocolate.” Sweet treat offerings are available from Little Tucker, Steven Smith Teas, juices from Juice Because and even Kombucha, there is something for all palates.
The artwork on the walls are available to purchase, but the one thing that stood out to us was the shelf full of books. Read one while you are there or take a book home for a couple days to read and return. The space offers floor to ceiling windows letting the sun shine in, gold accents and reclaimed wood. Comfortable and cozy on these cold winter days.
Right in the heart of Inglewood you will find Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar, owned by Andy Fennell, a former office executive who needed a change in his life. He decided to do something he’d never done before, open a cafe selling coffee and snacks, and actually drink coffee. He learned the art of pulling an espresso from Sebastian of Phil & Sebastian’s and since opening the cafe has never looked back.
This favourite hangout for locals and regulars offers a simple food menu, wine and beer program, and a variety of espresso drinks using Phil & Sebastian coffee. Revolving art work is hung around the cafe and available for purchase. On weekends the cafe livens up with entertainment.
It’s a great place to have a meeting, stop in on the weekends for some live music, and a glass of wine, or meet up with friends for a delicious latte.
There were several great recommendations on where to go find the best coffee in Calgary. It’s wonderful to see such an exciting coffee scene and culture in Calgary that goes beyond Tim Horton’s. Bumpy’s Cafe was one of these recommendations and brings us to Day 7.
This hip, funky and very colourful little cafe is located on 8th Avenue at around 10th, or next to Beer Revolution for those directionally challenged such as myself. Cozy and quaint, they offer a variety of hot beverages and home made food items to tantalize your taste buds.
Bumpy’s serves JJ Bean Coffee (from Vancouver) and even offer their own signature Atomic Blend Coffee roasted in small batches by JJ Bean. Super friend Clare took my order, and her large and friendly personality definitely lit up the cafe.
A fun spot to try and get your coffee fix.
Jeremy Ho, Ben Put and Justin Eyford are the master minds behind Monogram Coffee. With a combined 20+ years of experience in the coffee industry plus prior experience with Phil & Sebastian this trio is quickly gaining respect and notoriety in the Calgary coffee scene. While it’s great they are a global award-winning team with 20+ yrs combined experience, it doesn’t impress me. What impresses me is their passion and dedication to their craft, their rustic coffee shops, great service (based on one visit), and stellar coffee offering.
I enjoyed my coffee date today with a friend in the Altadore location. We both traveled from our homes in the far North to check out this location out of the core. It was very warm, inviting and we were not disappointed. The coffee mugs were cozy and the cafe busy. I could easily be drawn back to this location the next time I am in the South. We admittedly did not snack on anything today as there was no table available to us when we arrived, but rather delighted in our mugs of deliciousness shared over great conversation.
Several of the shops I have visited are not necessarily new to me, but rather ones I have visited in the past, and thoroughly enjoyed for a variety of reasons. Cafe Blanca is one of them. I’ve had their coffee on several occasions so during this visit I opted for a chai latte.
Located in downtown Calgary close to Sien Lok Park, Cafe Blanca is a quaint little spot to get your coffee fix, perhaps grab a light snack and stroll on over to the river front to enjoy the park and view.
Described by owner Derek Ho as a playground for creative professionals, harbouring creative talent, conceptual thinking and collaboration, it’s a cafe offering a stage for musical performances, piano encouraging musical creation, and an area for exhibitions or private events.
Follow the aroma of roasting coffee beans to this quaint little Kensington coffee shop located right around the corner from Midtown Kitchen & Bar.
Open since 1985, The Roasterie roasts their own beans daily right in the shop. Stop in and watch the process, order a coffee, pick up some beans and take in the collection of antique coffee grinders and items covering the walls. There is even local art work available to purchase.
With only a few seats available, seating is limited at peak times so getting your cuppa joe to go might be the best choice. The coffee is delicious and definitely worth the trek.
While researching local coffee shops in Calgary we learned there are way more than 10 great coffee shops to support. Unfortunately this time we could only pick 10 to visit. That’s why we will be back in the new year to visit 10 new local coffee shops in Calgary for Part II and potentially later on a Part III!
Thank you to those coffee shops who have acknowledged our support and shout outs. It shows you pay attention and you care about what the community is saying.
I challenge you to find a friend and visit a local coffee shop in your hood. Happy Holidays!